Current events Pre-Romanesque Art in Oviedo

Pre-Romanesque Art in Oviedo

It is unique in the world. In Asturias, there are 14 Pre-Romanesque Art sites, and two of the most important ones are located on Mount Naranco in Oviedo.

In Asturias, there are 14 buildings with varying degrees of preservation, mainly in the region's center and on Mount Naranco, at the foot of which the city of Oviedo grows, where two of the most representative monuments of Asturian pre-Romanesque art coincide.

In them, it is clear that architecture and sculpture are intimately linked. They are elongated buildings but with proportionate dimensions and without grandiose gestures. They have utilitarian forms, with austere ornamentation, which ultimately propose very good stylistic arguments, an aesthetic unity of all elements that is surprising given the early date of its emergence.

The city of Oviedo, as the capital of the kingdom of Asturias, houses notable architectural gems that were forged during 200 years of monarchy and Asturian pre-Romanesque art. From the reign of Don Pelayo in the year 722 to the death of Alfonso III in 910 when the royal capital was transferred to León.

The popular palace of Santa María del Naranco was originally conceived as a royal residence, hunting palace, and resting place for Ramiro I. Its beauty and functionality were already admired in the Middle Ages. It consists of two floors, the upper one being a large vaulted hall that opens to the outside through two large balconies. In the same century of its construction, the 9th century, it was transformed into a church. Its Byzantine-type capitals are noteworthy, albeit with typical Asturian rope-like decoration, as well as the representations of animals and human figures.

A short distance away, we find San Miguel de Lillo or Liño. A royal temple that was supposed to correspond to the nearby palace of the monarch. This monument has come down to us greatly altered. In the 13th century, part of it collapsed due to the poor conditions of the terrain on which it sits. From its original layout, only the western body and the first section of the naves remain. The decorative aspect is extremely interesting; the reliefs found on the door jambs are of exquisite workmanship, as are the lattices and the interior tribune, designed to dignify the religious ceremonies attended by the king.

San Julián de los Prados is another beautiful example of Asturian pre-Romanesque architecture located at the entrance to the city on its eastern slope. It is none other than the church of San Julián de los Prados or Santullano, as it is popularly known. King Alfonso II the Chaste dedicated this beautiful church to Saint Julian and his wife, Saint Basilissa. It dates back to the 9th century and at that time was integrated into his palace outside the walls of Oviedo. It is the largest pre-Romanesque temple preserved in Spain. It has three naves with a transept and three square-headed apses. In parallel with its architecture, Santullano preserves a pictorial repertoire that makes it one of the most unique churches of Spanish early medieval art. It is known that the frescoes covered the entire interior, even the roof, and have been linked to the mural paintings of Pompeian tradition.